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Thursday, 29 March, 2001, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
Louvre's new wonder boy
Henri Loyrette, the Louvre Museum's incoming director, is one of the youngest people to take on the role at a relatively youthful 48.

He is also the youngest member of the Academie des Beaux-Arts, France's prestigious fine arts institution, into which he was inducted in 1997.

But he has clocked up plenty of experience - his previous work at the Musée d'Orsay, just opposite the Louvre on the other side of the River Seine, includes a string of successful exhibitions.

He spent two years at Rome's Villa Medicis in the late 1970 before joining the Orsay in 1978 and becoming its director seven years ago.

Musee d'Orsay, Paris
Loyrette is director of Musee d'Orsay, Paris
His 1987-88 exhibition at the museum by French Impressionist Edgar Degas reaped a more than respectable 447,000 visitors.

Another, featuring the work of French caricaturist, painter and sculptor Honore Daumier attracted 200,000 people.

Loyrette described the exhibition as "an unexpected success for an artist who suffered from his image as a caricaturist".

But as well as providing commercial successes, he is also prepared to champion lesser-known artists.

"I am curious about the things that we don't usually see," he said.

"I realised that so far as the field of artistic creation is concerned, there are whole areas that are still unexplored. It is up to us to discover them."

Edgar Degas sculpture
He held a successful exhibition by Edgar Degas
Loyrette used his close contacts with other European museums to bring several artists to the public's attention.

Under his directorship, the Orsay exhibited the works of Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershoi, Eugene Jansson of Sweden, Poland's Jacek Malczewski and Mikalojus Ciurlionis from Lithuania.

His rise to the top has been well-earned however - he is said to be meticulous and incredibly organised, as well as friendly with his staff.

He has insisted the huge amount of administrative tasks which need attending to at the Louvre will not put him off, saying: "Quite the contrary - I enjoy it."

But his life is not all work and no play - Loyrette also prides himself on a range of interests outside his job, from architecture and literature to cinema and French songs.

His hobbies also include playing the violin and singing.

See also:

29 Mar 01 | Arts
New boss at Louvre's helm
06 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Mona Lisa to move home
06 Jul 98 | Europe
Painting stolen from Louvre
19 Dec 97 | Europe
Grand Louvre opens its doors
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